Questions, Doubt, and Unbelief

QUESTIONS, DOUBT, and UNBELIEF

One way God speaks to us is by asking us questions. We see Him doing this throughout the Bible.

The first question God asks man is, “Where are you?” (Gen 3:9)

When Elijah was hiding in the cave, the Lord asked, “Elijah, what are you doing here?” (1Kings 19:9)

When Peter began walking on the water toward Christ, he looked at the wind and the waves instead of Jesus. His doubts caused him to sink. Jesus rescued Peter and asked him, “Oh, you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matt 14:31)

One day, Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you say I am?" (Matt 16:15)

When Saul was on the road to Damascus, the risen Lord asked, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:4)

In John 11:25-26, “Jesus said to her (Martha), "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

Why does God ask us questions? He is not looking to us for knowledge. He knows the answers. His questions are designed to make us think, to look deep within our soul, to discover our hidden doubts and unbelief.

There is a difference between doubt and unbelief. Unbelief is when people willfully set themselves against the Truth. They choose not to believe.

For example, John 12:37 Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him

Doubts can be intellectual, where we doubt that the Bible is really inspired by God or that Jesus is really resurrected from the dead. Doubts can also be emotional. When a person has experienced great sorrow or disappointment, such as the loss of a job, a divorce, or the death of a loved one, they might doubt the goodness, love, and wisdom of God.

Whether intellectual or emotional, having doubts of any kind put us on “shaky ground”. Doubt makes us wonder if we are saved or lost. Doubt robs us of peace and joy.

Doubt arises when we have an intellectual or emotional barrier to a more solid faith in a biblical teaching or in God. We want to believe, but we just need some help to believe.

For example: John 20:24-29 Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Mark 9:14-29 also illustrates doubt when the father of a demon possessed son looks to Jesus for deliverance and says to Jesus “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

The father acknowledged that he has faith that evil spirits can be cast out, but he struggles with some doubts that Jesus can cast them out since His disciples could not. Nevertheless, Jesus honored this man’s little faith and cast out the demons.

This shows the presence of doubt does not mean the absence of faith! What is important is what you do with your doubt. Whenever you have questions, ask God for answers. Be specific with the doubt you are having and God will do or say something to increase your faith, and give you peace.

Philippians 4:6-7 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

If the peace of God does not come when we pray, it is an indication we still have doubt that God that will answer our prayer. We are double-minded like the father in Mark 9. We believe that God can do what He has promised, but we still have doubt. We pray to the Lord “hoping” He will hear us and answer our requests, but we’re just not sure He will, because in the past, we asked for something and He didn’t respond like we wanted.

If we don’t know God’s ways, we will be disappointed in His response. All too often our prayers are accompanied by expectations of how God will answer our prayer. When He fails to intervene according to our timetable or anticipated method, we start to doubt.

Faith is the opposite of doubt; therefore, the way to get rid of doubt (emotional or intellectual) is to replace our doubts with truth. Jesus is the Truth. He is also the Word.

Romans 10:17 So faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Therefore, we can find answers to our doubts in God’s Word. If we spend time in the Bible to learn God’s principles and ways, we will begin to grasp what He wants to achieve in our life and how He goes about it, which can include enduring trials to make us mature. His Word will give us faith in the Lord and trust in His good and perfect ways while we wait for His answer.

2 Corinthians 10:5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,

Much of our doubt comes from how we feel, not what we know. “I don’t feel saved; I don’t feel loved; I don’t feel God has forgiven me”. We must remind ourselves what is true regardless of how we feel or what the opinions of others might be.

For example: Does God have the answer to every question and need in my life?

This is hard to believe when our prayers haven’t been answered just like we wanted. We lose our focus on God and put it on our need, wants, desires, and problems. We focus on our lack instead of on God’s promises and provision.

Listen to this promise in Philippians 4:19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

God is asking us today, “Do you believe this?” If so, we must obey His Word.

Another example: Does the Father see what I’m going through, and does He care?

We tend to doubt God when troubles come. Self-consideration enters in and down we go just like Peter on the water. Similar to the wind and the waves, our troubles are real. When we look at them, we are overwhelmed, and we begin to fear. If we cry out to the Lord, He rescues us, and He kindly asks us, like He did Peter, “Why did you doubt?” He asks this to increase our faith in Him.

We also tend to doubt when God hasn’t answered our prayer immediately. The waiting, the suspense, not knowing the outcome—these anxieties attack us. We don’t want to suffer; we want our will done immediately. However, our self-will must be broken before we can have faith to take refuge in the LORD and experience His deliverance.

Psalm 34:17-22 The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken. Evil will slay the wicked; the foes of the righteous will be condemned. The LORD redeems his servants; no one will be condemned who takes refuge in him.

Therefore, let actual circumstances be what they may. Focus on Jesus. Trust Him completely. We will “walk on the water” in the midst of the “wind and the waves” when we walk with Jesus, who can calm everything by saying “Peace, be still!”

Therefore, our faith and trust should be in Him—not in “our faith” and not in our circumstances. In other words:

  1. Have faith and trust in the PERSON of God.

Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

God is spirit, and we seek Him by asking for the Holy Spirit. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit and walking by Him instead of our flesh, it is impossible for us to doubt God. We become surer of Him than of anything else, because He is in us.

Get into the habit of dealing with God about everything. In the first waking moment of the day, pray to our Father, and you will see everything stamped with the person of God throughout the day.

  1. Have faith and trust in the POWER of God to work in us and in our circumstances.

Ephesians 3:14-21 For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

God in us is sufficient grace to do His will, and His grace and power is made perfect in our weaknesses. The Holy Spirit is the power of Jesus Christ enabling us to do God’s will in all circumstances. Apart from Him, we can do nothing, but sin. On the other hand, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us! (Phil. 4:13)

  1. Have faith and trust in the PRESENCE of God.

Some people seem to think it is a sophisticated and enlightened thing to doubt the existence of God. It is an evil thing! Don’t consider their unbelief. Consider the Word!

Psalm 139:7-12 Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.

God asks some more questions: Jeremiah 23:23-24 “Am I a God at hand, declares the LORD, and not a God far away? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD.”

We are always in God’s Presence, even if we don’t believe in Him. Ultimately, everyone will acknowledge His Presence. Every knee will bow and confess that Jesus Christ is LORD (Phil 2:10-11). Therefore, earnestly desire His Presence in you now, and you will be in His Presence today and throughout eternity.

  1. Have faith and trust in the PRECEPTS of God. (precepts are rules, an order that is established and unchangeable)

For example: Deuteronomy 30:15-20See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you today, by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”

Therefore, choose to obey the precepts of God even if no one else does. Only by obedience to His precepts will we see the promises and blessings of God. That is a rule that God has established and it is unchangeable.

2 Thessalonians 2:15-17 So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

Now let me ask you a few of questions.

Is there something in your life causing you to doubt God? Whenever there is doubt, it is an important matter. Don’t ignore it. You must address it.

Are you willing to confess to Jesus, “I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief?”

If you need help or encouragement to believe, we will be happy to pray with you and help you find answers in God’s Word.

Last but most importantly, I ask, “If you were to die today, where would you spend eternity?”

You can know for sure. If you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, who atoned for your sin on the cross, publicly confess that faith and repent of your sin by giving your life to Jesus through baptism. You will be born again of the Holy Spirit, and you will live forever with God.

I repeat Jesus’ words in John 11:25-26, “Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

Do you believe this? That is the question today.